From left to right: Jim Button, Emmanote and Luke
An animated series based on the Jim Button
novels by Michael Ende
Tropes used in this series:
- Adaptational Nice Guy: Nepomuk, the half-dragon. In the book he was a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who tried to be evil and scary because he wanted to be like the full-blood dragons, but never managed to be anything worse than mildly impolite and inconsiderate. In the series even this jerkishness has been toned town, to the point where even other half-dragons shun him because he's "too nice".
- Adaptation Expansion: The 1996 animated series has the same main characters and basic plot as the books, but is padded with a lot of added characters and subplots.
- It also gives Mrs Grindtooth an extra motivation for imprisoning the children in the first place, which is based on a lot of misunderstandings and misconceptions about the nature of humans. She's growing old and, having misunderstood the saying that "Laughter makes you younger," she kidnaps a bunch of children so that they can teach her the power of laughter. When the children don't feel much inclined to laugh being imprisoned in Sorrowland, she decides to torture them until they cooperate — and having heard that human children find school to be torture, she starts the mock-school.
- Ascended Extra:
- Pi Pa Po, the Evil Chancellor of Mandala is a fairly minor nuisance in the book and is quickly disposed of, but in the animated series he's a major antagonist, constantly following Luke and Jim to thwart them, and is even the one who arranged for Princess Li Si to be kidnapped. Pi Pa Po's reason for doing this is that he wants to become emperor of Mandela by forcing the current emperor into a state of grief.
- Li Si and Ping Pong likewise have much larger roles.
- Same with Nepomuk, who takes the role of Guest-Star Party Member in a few episodes.
- The Wild 13 never actually showed up in person until the second book, but here they are recurring characters from the start.
- Big Bad Ensemble: Mrs. Grindtooth and Pi Pa Po during the first story arc. The Wild 13 and again Pi Pa Po during the second story arc.
- Cannot Tell a Joke: Mrs. Grindtooth, largely because she has no concept of humor.
- Canon Foreigner: Dozens of them. Perhaps most central are Mrs. Grindtooth's half-dragon Evil Minions (directly contradicting the book's statement that full-blood dragons refuse to deal with half-dragons) and Pi Pa Po's Sycophantic Servant Mei Wen Ti.
- Defiant Captive: Princess Li Si, who constantly stands up to Mrs. Grindtooth.
- Jerkass: Pi Pa Po and Mrs Grindtooth
- Lethal Chef: Mrs. Grindtooth, though partly this might be because of dragons' unique diet. Her pastries are so lethal that the Wild 13 successfully use them as cannonballs when they've run out of real cannonballs. However, the pastries can be softened with salt.
- MacGuffin: Li Si's locket.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: The half-dragons; much more obviously so than in the book, where the only half-dragon we actually meet is Nepomuk. Here we meet tons of them, all of which are more or less obvious mixes of dragons and various animals.
- In fact, Nepomuk himself is almost a Subversion of this, as he's the only half-dragon we meet whose non-dragon parentage isn't immediately obvious (his mother was a hippo, but beyond some vague hippo-like facial features he doesn't look much like one).
- Never Say "Die": The English dub in particular gets ridiculous with the euphemisms the characters resort to in their total unwillingness to say "die" or "kill."
- Making it even more of a shock the first time it's averted, by the Emperor's line to Ping Pong when they meet in the prison: "I may look like I'm alive, but with Li Si gone, and Jim and Luke, I feel as if I were dead."
- And in the season one finale, the words "die," "dying" and "killed" are used several times, by and about the defeated Mrs. Grindtooth. Of course, she is spared death at the last moment, due to experiencing joy for the first time in her life — and as in the book, transforms into a Golden Dragon of Wisdom.
- Resurrect the Wreck: In season 2, after the Wild 13's old ship is wrecked and they find themselves a new ship as a replacement, Pi Pa Po and his goons patch up the old ship for their own use.
- Scenery Gorn: When Pi Pa Po becomes emperor by deposing Li Si's father, his selfishness manages to make everyone in Mandela miserable. First, his soldiers have been wrecking the Forest of a Thousand Wonders by ripping diamond hearts out of the trees. Then, he imposes taxes so heavy that few people are able to pay in full. Even the farmers, who are supposed to provide all the food in the empire, are reduced to begging for food as Pi Pa Po has taken everything edible from them. And just a cursory look in Ping tells you how much things have changed for the worse: the capital city of Mandela has been reduced to a total ghost town through disproportionate taxation and imprisonment of Pi Pa Po's critics.